The ZR-7 was first introduced in
1999, although the engine specification could have been from 25 years
earlier. That's because the ZR-7 is based around a slightly updated version
of the Z750 engine of 1973.
The air-cooled four-cylinder
engine is decidedly low-tech, but it offers economical, reliable running,
with a lazy, flexible power delivery.
The chassis is more up-to-date,
but not by much. A steel-tube cradle frame is more than stiff enough for the
power, and a monoshock rear suspension unit is adjustable for preload. The
twin-piston front brake calipers aren't peformance parts, but provide
sufficient stopping power, and the modern tyre sizes allow decent
sport-touring rubber to be fitted.
Grippy rubber just shows up the
lacklustre nature of the rest of the chassis though, and the ZR-7 quickly
runs out of ground clearance in fast bends.
However, the ZR-7 does win out in
the equipment stakes. The fuel tank holds a massive 22 litres (4.8 gal), the
exhaust is long-lasting stainless steel and in addition there's a large
storage space under the comfortable dual seat.
For 2001, Kawasaki launched a
faired version of the ZR-7, the ZR-7S. While the small half-fairing
certainly improved the bike's practicality and distance capability, the
extra weight didn't help either
the engine or the brakes, and the ZR-7S was still outclassed by Suzuki's
Bandit, Yamaha's Fazer and the faired Honda Hornet'S' in almost every way.
Kept in a low-performance
commuting or novice bike role, the ZR-7 is just about up to the job. But it
is the superiority of its competitors that relegates the ZR-7 to the bottom
of many riders' list. Having said that, the ZR-7 has proved popular in some
continental markets: extreme customized ZR-7s are, strangely, a common sight